US President Donald Trump has called off a historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un scheduled for next month, citing Pyongyang’s “open hostility,” and warning the US military is ready in the event of any reckless acts by North Korea. Mr Trump wrote a letter to Mr Kim to announce his abrupt withdrawal from what would have been a first-ever meeting between a serving US president and a North Korean leader in Singapore on June 12.
In the letter, Mr Trump wrote he felt it was “inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting” after “tremendous anger and open hostility” displayed in North Korea’s most recent statement. “Therefore, please let this letter serve to represent that the Singapore summit, for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world, will not take place,” the letter read.
“You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used.”
Mr Trump called it “a missed opportunity” but said he was still looking forward to meeting Mr Kim “some day”. The letter came shortly after North Korea followed through on a pledge to blow up tunnels at its nuclear site in the presence of foreign journalists.
A letter from the President to Chairman Kim Jong Un: "It is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting." pic.twitter.com/3dDIp55xu1
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) May 24, 2018
Earlier on Thursday, North Korea repeated a threat to pull out of the summit and warned it was prepared for a nuclear showdown with Washington if necessary. In the North Korean statement that Mr Trump citied, Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui had called US Vice-President Mike Pence a “political dummy” for comparing North Korea — a “nuclear weapons state” — to Libya.
A White House official said North Korean condemnation of Mr Pence was the “last straw” that led to the US cancelling the meeting, but said there was still hope for peace with North Korea. Mr Trump also left the door open to the chance the summit could be rescheduled. In his letter, he said Mr Kim should not “hesitate to call me or write” if he changed his mind about their now-cancelled summit.
And in a statement later at the White House, Mr Trump said he was still open to dialogue but had spoken to Defence Secretary Jim Mattis and warned North Korea against any “reckless act”. He said the US military was the most powerful in the world and was ready if necessary. Mr Trump said South Korea and Japan were also ready to shoulder much of the financial burden, “if an unfortunate situation is forced upon us” by North Korea.
“While many things can happen and a great opportunity lies ahead potentially, I believe that this is a tremendous setback for North Korea and indeed a setback for the world,” Mr Trump said.”
Asked if cancellation of the summit increased the risk of war, he replied: “We’ll see what happens.”
‘Maximum pressure’ sanction campaign to continue
Mr Trump said the United States would continue its “maximum pressure” campaign of sanctions to press North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons. “North Korea has the opportunity to end decades of poverty and oppression by following the path of denuclearisation and joining the community of nations,” Mr Trump said.
“I hope that Kim Jong-un will ultimately do what is right, not only for himself, but perhaps most importantly what’s right for his people, who are suffering greatly and needlessly.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he hoped Pyongyang and Washington would be able to resume talks on dismantling Pyongyang’s nuclear program, but the decision was ultimately up to Mr Kim.
“I hope we quickly are able to get back to that place, but ultimately Chairman Kim will have that decision to make for himself,” Mr Pompeo told a Senate committee in his first comments shortly after the summit was cancelled. Mr Pompeo read the letter aloud at the start of testimony to the committee, saying it was a disappointing development although “frankly not a surprise.”
Mr Pompeo said Mr Trump had made the decision himself to withdraw after meetings on Wednesday (local time), in which he concluded the summit would not be successful. He said Pyongyang had not been responsive in recent days as the Trump administration sought to send logistics teams to Singapore ahead of the summit.
“Over the past many days we have endeavoured to do what Chairman Kim and I had agreed, to put preparation teams together to begin to work for the summit, and we had received no response to our inquiries to them,” Mr Pompeo said. “We’ve not been able to conduct the preparations between our two teams that would be necessary to have a successful summit.”
‘Perplexed’ Moon regrets summit cancellation: Yonhap
South Korean President Moon Jae-in expressed deep regret over Mr Trump’s decision to cancel the summit, the Yonhap news agency reported, citing the Blue House executive office.
“I am very perplexed and it is very regrettable the North Korea-US summit will not be held on June 12 when it was scheduled to be held,” Mr Moon was quoted as saying at a meeting with his top security officials.”
Yonhap said Mr Moon urged direct talks between Mr Trump and Mr Kim, and said denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula should not be delayed by the decision to call off the summit. United Nations chief Antonio Guterres said he was “deeply concerned” by the cancellation of the planned summit.
He urged parties to continue their diplomatic efforts with “nerves of seel” to work towards denuclearisation of the divided Korean peninsula. Mr Guterres’s comments at the University of Geneva came as he laid out his disarmament agenda on Thursday, warning nuclear agreements between states were threatened like never before. He said leaders had a responsibility to minimise the risk of weapons and said disarmament was a concern for every country and should cover weapons “from hand grenades to H-bombs”.